God’s will and the nations

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Jeremiah 49:23-50:46; Proverbs 26:13-16

READ (Verse chosen for reflection)
Jeremiah 50:17-18 “Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones. Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria.”

REFLECT
From the earlier chapters in Jeremiah (especially chapter 27), we understand that God was using Babylon as His instrument to punish Israel. God even called Babylon His “servant”. In that sense, why would God punish Babylon for hurting Israel? Was it “fair” of God to do so? We learnt from the book of Isaiah (chapter 47) as well as other books in the Old Testament that Babylon was a wicked nation. For her wickedness, Babylon shall also be punished. God therefore in His sovereignty, used a wicked nation to punish another for the purpose that both nations will repent of their evil deeds.

RELATE
In this day and age, will God use “wicked nations” to bring His people into repentance? I believe so. However, I am not so sure if we can categorise any nations as “wicked” these days, even the nation which consistently threaten to use its nuclear warheads. Rather, I believe God can and will use unrighteous leaders of nations to fulfil His purpose. God is sovereign and all belongs to Him. So He can definitely use whoever He wants to do His will. Yet, the wicked, even if they are being used by God to fulfil His will, they will not be spared.

What we need to remember is that God’s purpose is always about bringing forth His glory and for us to grow in righteousness. Hence, even if we should face persecutions or discipline by “wicked” nations or people in our lives; may we be humble and repent if need be. May we also be steadfast in our relationship with God and continue to be faithful.

REST
Lord our God, may You give us the grace to be steadfast; even on days when the “wicked” seems to prevail and even being used by You to discipline us. We know that at the end of the day, You do what is best for us. Amen.

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Day 37

by Rev Joel Yong

Deuteronomy 8:1-6 ESV
The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.

There is no point in success without knowing God. It is like pursuing a fleeting pleasure while on our way towards decline.

That is why the Lord commanded Israel not to forget how He had saved them and provided for them, even while they live in the Promised Land.

They were to remember that riches are from God and not the end goal of their pursuit, rather they should seek God who is the Source and Giver of all blessings.

It is easy for us to be distracted by money, food, and shelter issues. We think that we need these things to survive.

But all these merely sustain the body and it may seem to do so for a lifespan … but without God, our spirit dies. And that is for an eternity.

To get an idea of the contrast – draw a 20cm line on a piece of paper using a blue ballpoint pen. At the start of that line- use a red ballpoint pen and make a dash.

The thickness of that dash is our LIFESPAN.
The rest of it is how long ETERNITY is, in comparison.

That is why God wanted the people to learn to honor Him and not just focus on these issues of food, clothing etc.